Bears win a classic 90-82
The Sevier County Smoky Bears played their best basketball for the second night in a row Friday evening in the semifinals of the Winterfest Shootout.
The Bears (11-0), led by Devin Schmidt's 34 points, beat Douglas County (Ga.) 90-82 in a high-flying, high-octane contest that lived up to the tournament's name.
The Bears and visiting Tigers traded layups and jumpers for most of the night, as the squads ran wide-open up and down the floor for the full 32 minutes.
Neither team could get the upper-hand in the first half, but by the 3:00 mark of the third quarter, Douglas County had built the largest lead of the night at 57-51.
But coach Ken Wright's squad didn't fold, and battled back behind a burst of scoring from Schmidt and senior teammate Logan McCarter — who ended the night with a career-high 23 points.
"Logan stepped up, he loves a challenge and he stepped up," Wright said.
A pair of Schmidt free throws knotted the score at 63-63 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, the Tigers hot shooting from earlier in the night cooled, and the Bears stepped up their effort on the defense glass.
That, coupled with an untimely technical foul call on Douglas's Jalen Thornton, helped spark a 21-13 run over the game's final five minutes.
"We started really going after the defensive boards in the fourth quarter," Wright said. "They started missing their threes, and that's when we were able to get that (big) lead.
"The guys just did a fantastic job, it was a great effort all the way around," the coach said.
Schmidt took over the game late for the Bears, scoring eight of the team's final 10 points and dishing an assist to McCarter for the squad's other deuce.
"Devin's a great open-court player," Wright said. "In the open court he's really at his best, and Jacob Whaley and Logan McCarter also played really well. We have some really good athletes (too). We ran the court extremely well, and that's their game. And we were able to play their game."
Beyond Schmidt's 34 and McCarter's 23, teammate Jacob Whaley also recorded 17 big points from the point guard spot. Weston Underwood added eight timely points, while cousin Cody Underwood netted six and Brent Delozier had two.
Thornton and Justin Bridges had 19 each to lead Douglas County.
The Bears will play Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) in the Shootout finals Saturday night at 8:30 p.m.
Coach Wright's son, Mike Wright, is the coach of Oakland squad.
"If you've got to play your son, it might as well be in the finals," Wright said with a laugh. "It should be a good one."
As for the Bearettes' team, a late surge got them close in their semifinal matchup, but it wasn't enough, and White County won 59-47.
Coach Stacy Marine's team battled back from a difficult first half to close their game to within three early in the fourth quarter, 43-40.
After that, however, it was all White County, as the Lady Warriors scored seven-straight to pull ahead for good en route to the 59-47 semifinal victory.
Playing without starting guard Kelsey Wypych, who suffered a knee injury Thursday, the SC squad fell behind big early.
Loren Foster, Bella Taylor and Allyson Quillen each hit 3-pointers in a 20-6 first-quarter run that had the Lady Warriors firmly in front.
Their advantage remained in the second, with the teams' playing even, and the score stood at 29-15 at the break.
The Bearettes exploded in the third, however, as guard Katlyn Davis caught fire from the outside and teammates Brittany Tarr and tallied points as well.
Sevier's 22-14 superiority in the quarter closed the Lady Warriors' lead to 43-37 heading into the final stanza.
A 3-pointer by Davis cut that lead further to 43-30 in the opening seconds of the fourth, but a 7-0 White County run swung the momentum right back to the visitors.
And that was all they'd need.
The 10-point, 50-40 lead allowed the Lady Warriors to coast to the eventual 59-47 final.
Tarr was the Bearettes' leading scorer in the loss with 15 points, followed by Davis with 13. Rachel Cole finished with nine points, while Taylor Chapman had six and Bri Miniard four.
The Bearettes will play in the consolation game Saturday at 4 p.m. in the SCHS gymnasium.
Earlier in the day the Pigeon Forge Tigers suffered their second loss of the Shootout to Glenwood (Ala.) in an 89-78 game that saw 3-pointers raining from everywhere.
Though the Tigers trailed for almost the entirely of the game, the Orange and Black played what their coach called one of their best contests this season.
"It was probably one of our best games of the year, because that team is as talented as any team we've faced," coach Jonathan Shultz said. "They were up on 10 against Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) on Thursday and they had players that were 6-foo-8, 6-foot-6 and they had guards that were (very good)."
The Tigers dug themselves a huge hole in the first quarter and trailed by 12.
But the team never gave up and actually outscored the Gators by one point the rest of the way.
"We lost the first quarter by 12 and lost the game by (only) 11," Shulz said. "I was really proud of them."
Ben Vaughan had a career-high 24 points, including four 3-pointers.
"I'm very proud of him," Shultz said.
The Tigers hit 11 3-pointers in all, and that's usually a good sign for the offensive-minded squad.
"In four of our last five games we've hit 10 or 11 threes, so we're getting more consistent," Shultz said. "We're learning to shoot with our feet set. Early in the year we were just throwing it up. We've been working on that, and I'm really proud of how the team played."
Anthony Shuler (17), Jake Kingery (15), Nate Marine (11), Ryan Beal (7) and Peyton Marshall (4) rounded out the scoring for PF.
The Tigers will be in action again this morning at 10:30 in the final round of games at SCHS.